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Dominican Volunteers USA
Organization celebrates its 10th anniversary

A group of alumni from the Apostolic Volunteer program

By Michael Chapuran
Executive Director
Dominican Volunteers USA

On Sept. 25, current and former volunteers, staff, and sisters and friars who have supported the program came together to celebrate DVUSA’s 10 years of “Responding to the Mission.” The event took place on the beautifully wooded Dominican University campus in River Forest, Illinois. Participants at three simultaneous satellite events joined us in spirit from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, with one still to come in Blauvelt, New York on Oct. 31. It truly was a night of prayers and praise for DVUSA across the nation!

Sister Pat Dulka, OP, Sister Barbara Blesse, OP,
and Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP

The event in Chicago, emceed by Tony Butler, began with a warm welcome from Sister Liz Dunn, OP (Sinsinawa), co-president of the Corporation Board. She was followed by Shannon Green, first director of DVUSA in 2000, who led the group in prayer and even some singing.

After dinner, former DV and Board of Trustees member Mark Meyer took the stage to reflect on what his volunteer service meant to him at the Highbridge Community Life Center in the Bronx, where he still works today. Kelly Allen, a current DV in Chicago, then gave her own thoughtful testimony on why she became a volunteer this year.

Sister Marilyn Derr, OP, with Tony Butler, former DVUSA executive director

The climax of the evening occurred with an extended standing ovation for Sister Marilyn Derr, OP (Sinsinawa), who received the first-ever “Mission Award” from first Board President Claire Noonan.

Sister Marilyn has hosted volunteers for each of the 10 years of the program at the House of Connections in Chicago’s southwest side, not to mention for 11 years before that hosting Apostolic Volunteers. Claire heartfully noted Sister Marilyn’s commitment to the education of adults, especially women suffering in poverty, having taught thousands at the Adult Learning Center and Deborah’s Place in Chicago. She went on to describe Sister Marilyn’s dedication to intergenerational community as not a place for imparting wisdom on youth, but of deep mutual respect and learning. It is with great joy and sincere appreciation that DVUSA honors Sister Marilyn, and we thank her for decades of putting others first!

The formal program ended with closing remarks from Margarett Garnett, current Board of Trustees president. Sister Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP (Sinsinawa) coordinated a raffle of delightful gift baskets from sponsoring congregations, provinces, and affiliates.

A night such as this celebrates the vision of the founders of the program, the ministry of the staff, board and volunteers to keep the vision alive, and the inspiration from the Holy Spirit to see that this decade is just the beginning of a long mission of service. We would like to acknowledge the committee of volunteers who coordinated the event, the in-kind support from local business and partners in the Dominican family, the coordinators of the satellite events, and every soul alive or passed that worked at any time in this volunteer program’s history to make it a remarkable tribute to the mission of Jesus Christ. In the spirit of St. Dominic, there’s only one thing left to say, “On with the preaching!”